Set on the campus of the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in south Wales, the Y Bwthyn Specialist Palliative Care Unit is a purpose-built medical centre. It has eight beds with accompanying nursing facilities, a visitor area and administration quarters.
The terraced plan utilises the change in ground levels to provide privacy to each of the bedrooms and private courtyard gardens. The garden areas are shaded with timber pergolas and zinc canopies with CNC artwork cut into each.
The stepped façade produces variation in the roof geometry due to the varying points of the roof pitch. This approach creates differences in the height of interior spaces and glazed elements which bring natural light deep into the plan, washing the walls and public areas with daylight. The use of exposed glulam timber brings a warmth to the interior material palette. The roof geometry also creates recessed flat roofs which allow external plant to be concealed from view.
The building features a hybrid construction to suit the varying needs of the Unit. For the cellular part of the building, the primary structural element is load-bearing masonry with a timber roof and ceiling structure forming a pitched roof for the eight-bed unit and the administrative facilities. The day centre contains larger open plan spaces and features a steel frame structure with high, pitched ceilings over multi-use zones. The structural ceiling provides support for medical hoists, services and access throughout the roof space for maintenance, without compromising the clean spaces below.
The building is located adjacent the south western corner of the hospital and required extensive underground drainage works to relocate existing car park drainage, petrol interceptors and attenuations tanks. These were all upgraded to contemporary standards in the process. Allowing for emergency ambulance access from multiple directions further complicated the site conditions.
Located near to the River Ely floodplain, the project required modelling to demonstrate to Natural Resources Wales that the Unit would not have a detrimental effect during flooding. With some careful modifications to the building’s design we discovered we could actually reduce flood impact.
A coal authority report indicated deep mining had been undertaken at the site as recently as the 1930s, requiring extensive ground investigations to be carried out at an early stage of the development. The mines didn’t impact on the Unit’s foundations, however the site was on an area which had been built up on mining fill material. The ground condition was analysed and assessed to be suitable to be used to found the building, thus simplifying construction, reducing costs and embodied carbon over a deep foundation solution.